Winning his 2006 campaign to become Hamilton County’s sheriff was Billy Long’s “greatest accomplishment,” according to what he told a psychologist as he sat in the Bradley County Jail.
Losing it all a year and a half later when the FBI caught him leading a secret life of crime was his “greatest failure,” he said.
Mr. Long maintains he still doesn’t know why he committed the crimes, according to a psychological evaluation filled with intimate details of the former sheriff’s thought processes. The evaluation was made public for the first time late Thursday.
According to the psychologist who created the profile, former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long:
* has an average IQ of 99
* is extroverted but mildly guarded
* becomes emotionally involved with others
* has a strong need to be accepted
* is not likely to commit more crimes
Source: Psychologist Bertin Glennon, Ph.D.
After two separate interviews in June and July, Bertin Glennon, Ph.D., states in his report that, although he believes Mr. Long is “extroverted,” “outgoing” and has “strong social concerns,” he also is capable of being “influenced by a strong, manipulative personality.”
According to Dr. Glennon, Mr. Long has a strong need to belong and be accepted by people, has a tendency to become emotionally involved with others and is inclined to be overconfident in his ability to handle complicated situations.
“Mr. Long may at times jump too quickly to conclusions,” Dr. Glennon writes. “He is eager to get things done and, once he has made a decision, he is reluctant to change his mind.”
Defense attorney Jerry Summers had opposed exposing the report with sensitive medical information, but he said last week he would not question a judge’s order to make it public.
“At this stage in these matters in Billy Long’s life, being embarrassed is the least of his concerns,” Mr. Summers said.
Of all the charges Mr. Long pleaded guilty to on May 5 — 19 counts of extortion, six counts of money laundering, one count of providing a firearm to a convicted felon and one count of possession with intent to sell cocaine — only the drug charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence and threatens to put the former sheriff in prison for at least 10 years.
Mr. Long’s quest to receive the lightest prison sentence possible now hinges largely on convincing a federal judge that the psychological report’s conclusions are correct, as well as the defense’s assertion that the “manipulative personality” of the government’s confidential informant is what led Mr. Long to commit his most serious drug crime.
The report is expected to be debated during Mr. Long’s sentencing hearing Oct. 27.
According to what Mr. Long told Dr. Glennon during the interviews, the Rev. Eugene Overstreet — who later would become the government’s confidential informant in the case — presented himself to the former sheriff during his election campaign, saying he was someone who could help Mr. Long capture votes of blacks and East Indians.
It was Mr. Overstreet, according to Mr. Long, who suggested the extortion of Indian convenience store owners as a way to make money for his future sheriff campaigns.
“He said that he believed that he was getting ‘scammed,’” writes Dr. Glennon in the report, but “just put it aside because he was trying to get elected and had to start planning his re-election.”
“That’s the dirty side of politics,” Mr. Long tells the interviewer, according to the report, despite his admission that he knew what he was doing was “wrong.”
As Mr. Long got “deeper and deeper” into his association with the informant, he would learn that Mr. Overstreet’s wife had cancer and needed financial help that possibly could be offset by their plans for shaking down the store owners and orchestrating drug transactions.
“He had some hope that if he helped Rev. Overstreet with his wife’s cancer, there was some hope that this would end,” the report states. “On several occasions, Mr. Long said he knew he shouldn’t have done this, but he didn’t know how to get out of it.”
It would end with Mr. Long’s arrest in February as he was caught on videotape helping Mr. Overstreet load a quantity of cocaine into a vehicle. Throughout the fake drug sting set up by the government, Mr. Overstreet had convinced Mr. Long they could make hundreds of thousands of dollars by helping to smuggle drug money from Mexico in funeral urns.
“Can you help me see why I done this?” Mr. Long asks during the second interview.